The holidays are a time for family, food and reflection.
That and testing your basketball prowess against quality out-of-conference opposition, of course.
It was in the latter holiday spirit that the Severna Park and Archbishop Spalding girls basketball teams squared off on December 28 in the second round of Annapolis Area Christian School’s 3rd Annual Christmas Tournament.
The Cavaliers padded their holiday haul by not only defeating the Falcons, 37-28, but by capping their tournament run by beating host AACS, 59-41, in the final on December 29 to win the tournament with a 3-0 record.
Against the Falcons, Brelynn Young led the Cavaliers with 13 points while Koi Simms (seven points), Joi Cheney (five), Ryann Evans (four), Morgan Pennick (four), Madison Peterein (three) and Pearl Rosemond (two) rounded out a balanced scoring effort as the Cavaliers moved to 6-5 overall (7-5 including the tournament final win the following day).
Lena McLaughlin scored nine points for Severna Park against Spalding, and Julia Ryan added eight, but the Falcons were stifled by Spalding’s quick-rotating defense and relentless Cavaliers rebounding on both the offensive and defensive ends.
“Passing the ball around, everybody getting a touch, taking your time and not rushing,” said Young of her team’s day against the Falcons. “Defensively, boxing out, going for the boards and not giving them second chances. We’re just going to keep building and doing better and better.”
Evans was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after Spalding’s victory over AACS, and Young was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Spalding head coach Maggie Morrison likes what she sees from her squad entering the new year.
“I think we’re very versatile this year,” said Morrison. “We’re old, we have six seniors and two juniors, so we’re definitely heavy on the upperclassmen. On any given night, our girls, anybody can show up and have a good game. We’re hard to guard that way. I think we’re very unselfish, we play hard, and they like to play for each other. They get excited on the bench, which always makes it fun. So I’m just really happy with our threat all over the floor.”
The goal at Spalding remains unchanged in the rough-and-tummble Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
“We want to win the championship, and I think we have the capability to do it,” said Morrison. “There’s some great teams—St. Frances, McDonogh, Roland Park—we have some great competition ahead of us, but there’s no doubt in my mind we can make it all the way there this year.”
Severna Park’s positive takeaway from its performance against Spalding was the team’s unwillingness to give in. The Cavaliers stretched the lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter, but after a timeout, Severna Park ratcheted up the defense and closed to within seven in the final two minutes, fighting to keep hope alive down to the final buzzer.
“That’s the most important thing, we’re down 15 in the fourth quarter, came out really flat in the second half, but the girls picked it up and fought hard to the end, so that was good to see. I thought they handled it well,” said head coach Kris Dean.
He added he wouldn’t be surprised if the shots start falling at a higher clip.
“We’ve got to keep getting better every day. That’s our thing,” said Dean. “I think we got better today. We’ve got a lot of girls who aren’t basketball girls, so it takes a little time in a tough county and tough area to be successful. Sometimes you have to knock off a little rust. We’re in a better position than we were last year at this time. We’re happy where we are and the girls we have.”
Severna Park rebounded the following day in the consolation final against Northern, winning 43-23 behind a game-high 12 points by Ryan, who also pulled down eight rebounds. McLaughlin had 12 boards and six points, and do-everything point guard Rachel Spilker had nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Playing without key cogs Kaila Stasuli and Hailey Betch—both traveling for lacrosse competition over the winter break—Severna Park showed its depth in the win over Northern as well as a 37-34 win over Glenelg Country on December 27, getting strong games from Jess Albert, Kelsey Powers, Rachel Ward, Campbell Kline and Cam Chew.
Albert scored a team-high 11 points in the win over Glenelg Country and said the offense does best when predicated on Ryan and McLaughlin on the blocks.
“I think we’re doing well utilizing short corner, our bigs and our passing,” Albert said. “We fought back against Glenelg Country, it was back and forth, but we finished strong.”
Severna Park enters 2019 at 5-3 overall with several highlights in the bank. McLaughlin pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds in the team’s season-opening win at St. Mary’s on December 6; Ryan led the Falcons in scoring against St. Mary’s with 12 points. Ward scored a team-high 11 points in a 53-27 rout of Southern on December 7. Ryan netted a game-high 19 points in a 45-33 win over Arundel on December 14.
Spilker, a senior who played the full 32 minutes against both Glenelg Country and Spalding and was named to the All-Tournament Team, said the holiday competition will pay dividends in January and February.
“I think these are really good opportunities to learn what we’re good at and what we need to work on,” she said. “They push us for sure and show us where we need to step up. They’re fun. So it was a good opportunity, especially coming into the rest of the season as it gets more important as it goes. We’re working hard and we’re excited to get better.”